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Jhomolhari Trek: Druk Essence Trek

General Overview

Day 1: Kathmandu to Paro

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchen Junga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Jhomulhari and Jichu Drake. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. Your Bhutanese escort from All Bhutan Connection (ABC) will greet you on arrival, and then drive you the short distance to the hotel Olathang.
Paro is a picturesque valley with quaint clusters of hamlets amid terraced paddy fields. Although the site of the nation’s first airport Paro still retains tradition by way of architecture and farming.
The evening ends with a walk through Paro’s main shopping district. Overnight at hotel Olathang. Altitude: 2200 m.

Day 2: Paro – hike to Taktsang

Morning drive the winding road to the Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Mount Chomolhari, the sacred summit, reaches skyward beyond the dzong. This can be viewed on a clear day. On the way back you visit a typical Bhutanese farm house of a local family for a close up view of everyday Bhutanese life. We stop at Satsam Chorten to hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The horse ride up to the cafeteria will take around one and half hour. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigeress in the 8th century. We then walk back to the road point. After lunch visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower built in the 17th century as a watch tower for the Paro Dzong. This dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1967. The museum boasts antique thangka, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Evening at leisure and overnight at hotel Olathang.

Day 3: Paro – Shana (Start of Trek)

Morning drive the winding road to the Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. Mount Jhumolhari, the sacred summit, reaches skyward beyond the dzong. Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong. At first you have to walk down to the level of the Paro river, the path runs on the left (western) side of the river. We then follow the Paro river up the valley through cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. Finally at “Gunichawa”, a military camp, which also junctions as a checkpoint for the army. Here the permits for the trek have to be produced and is checked by the army. Our camp site is located about 1 km above the military camp. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude: 2,840 m; Distance: 15/16 Km; Time: 4/5 hours.

Day 4: Shana – Thangthangka

The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. As we go up the valley becomes narrow, wilder and steeper. The trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads over the Tremo La to Tibet. This route was formerly used by Bhutanese people as a trading route to Tibet. We cross several traditional wooden bridges finally arriving Thanthangka. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. From this campsite for the first time-in case of good weather the Mount Jhumolhari may be seen. Altitude: 3610 m; Distance: 16 Km; Time: 07 hours.

Day 5: Thangthangka – Jangothang

In the morning after passing a small army out post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomulhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains including Mt. Jichu Drake overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Altitude: 4,115 m; Distance: 11 Km; Time: 4/5 hours.
21 Oct/Sat

Day 6: Jangothang

Today is a relaxing day and a chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jhomulhari glaciers and the two beautiful lakes of “Tshophu”. Here the route offers spectacular views to the steep ice-slopes of Mt. Jhomulhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. Overnight at camp.

Day 7: Sun Jangothang – Lingshi

A good day’s walk today with spectacular views of the Jhomolhari, Jichu Drakey and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700-m). After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill. Altitude: 4010m; Distance: 17 kms; Time: 6 - 7 hours.

Day 8: Lingshi – Shodu

Start early and first half of the trek is mostly through treeless valley until you start ascending to Yale-la pass at 4950 m, from here Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Tsherimgang and Mt. Masagang can be seen on clear days. Most people (Nomads) traveling between Lingshi and Thimphu use the Yale la so the trail is well marked. The descent from the pass joins the Jaradinthang Chhu which becomes the Thimphu Chhu. At an altitude of 4150 m is a chorten (stupa) from where the trail takes an easterly direction following the river. The camp is at Shodu just after crossing the sandy slope. Altitude: 4080m; Distance: 22 kms; Time: 8 - 9 hours.

Day 9: Shodu – Barshong

Today trial winds up & down following the Thimphu Chhu and follow the river through the limestone valley. Monks use the caves in the rocks and even Shabdrung is said to have mediated in these rocks when he fleed from Tibet in the 17th century. You will have the good opportunity to view the giant rockfaces and waterfalls and trail gradually ascends 130m to Barshong Dzongs in ruins. Barshong is a small village with an inhabitant of half a dozen houses. Altitude: 3720 m. Distance: 14 kms and walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 10: Barshong – Dolam Kencho

The trial descends gently down to meet Thimphu Chhu through the dense forest of Rhododendron, birch, conifer trees and across the pasture land. There are several ups and downs and crossings of smaller side streams, the main river follows a very obvious nearly perfect 90 degree corner changing from west-east to south. Altitude: 3290 m. Distance: 15 kms and walking time 5-6 hours.

Day 11: Dolam Kencho – Dodina – Thimphu

Today is an easy walk and with small ups and downs followed by a couple of short steep switchbacks to descend a vertical cliff before finally reaching the last stretch to Dodina. The trails descends through bamboo forests, following the mule trail high above the river and reach Dodina where your vehicle will meet you and drive you half an hour to Thimphu.,the modern capital of Bhutan. Thimphu has a population of about 98,500. The town is made up of just three lines of shops and is the only capital in the world without traffic lights. Check in at hotel Druk for a good shower and lunch will be served. In the evening visit the Handicrafts Emporium, which has all types of Bhutanese handicrafts for sale. Overnight at Hotel Druk.

Day 12: Thimphu – Punakha

In the morning visit National Library, stocked with priceless ancient Buddhist manuscripts and the Institute of Traditional Medicine, where old healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal remedies are still practiced. Also visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households, Textile Museum, where the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in its color and design. Other high lights include a visit to the Weekly Outdoor Market, where everyone goes to buy fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, chillis and other fresh foods. The crowded stalls offer many colorful local items such as yak tail dusters, butter tea cups, turquoise from Nepal and Tibet and musical instruments. Lunch served at a restaurant in Thimphu, after lunch depart to Punakha. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. Dinner and overnight at hotel Meri Puensum.

Day 13: Punakha – Wangdue – Gangtey

After breakfast a short drive will take us into the valley of Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan where we make a short stop to view the Wangdiphodrang Dzong dramatically located on the spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo and finally onto Gangtey valley, which lies in the flanks of the Black Mountains. There is an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa (under renovation) dating back to the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa on the valley floor are the fascinating valley of Phobjikha. The gentle sloping hillsides of Phobjikha is described as "the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas". This is the winter

home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Evening take a walk around the beautiful valley of Gangtey which lies at an altitude of 3,000 m. Dinner and overnight at hotel Dewachen.

Day 14: Gangtey – Thimphu

Today after breakfast drive back to Thimphu via Dochola pass and enroute visit Simtokha Dzong which was built in the 17th century and todays it houses the institute for National Language Dzongkha who later trained as teachers in the schools. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at hotel Druk.

Day 15: Thimphu – Haa

After breakfast drive into the valley of Haa which was opened to tourism in the year 2002.Haa valley extends from great Himalayan range in the north to the Amo-chhu river and its tributaries in the south-west. It has cool summers and cold winters and is situated at 2,670m. Lunch served at a restaurant in Haa town. After lunch visit Wangchuk Dzong which lies slightly uphill on the left and also visit lhakhang Karpo (white temple) which along with the adjacent lhakhang Nakpo (Black temple). The legend has that it was built by a pigeon emanation of King Songtsen Gampo during the 7th century and built in a single day. Dinner and overnight at hotel Drukgyel. (please note that hotels in Haa are very basic with hot and cold water running 24 hours, attached bathroom but not as comfortable as in paro or Thimphu.)

Day 16: Haa – Paro via Chelila pass

Breakfast served at the hotel and then drive to Paro via Chelila pass (3807m). This pass offers magnificent views of the highest mountains and Chomolhari peak on a clear day. The drive from the pass to Paro is through the conifers forests. Lunch served at hotel Olathang. Evening at leisure with a stroll through the Paro’s main shopping district. Dinner and overnight at hotel Olathang.

Day 17: Paro – Phuentsholing

The drive to sountern plains is through the thick forest of junipers, cider, oak, rhododendrons, magnolia and also you will find lots of species of wildlife. Lunch served at a restaurant in Bunakha tourist restaurant. Dinner and overnight at hotel Druk.

Day 18: Phuentsholing – Exit

After breakfast our representatives will help you with the exit formalities and bid you farewell at Phuentsholing. Good-bye and happy journey back home.

Itinerary

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